Now, think about one of those small groups: most of the people in it would be paired up already, and most of the rest would be too old or too young to be looking for a partner. (Neanderthals grew up a bit faster than we do nowadays in the West: a Neanderthal girl might have her first child at the age of fifteen.)
How, then,could a Neanderthal youngster find a partner?
It seemed likely to me that the adolescents would leave their bands and go off to find a mate in a different group. In SONG HUNTER I assumed that it was the boys who left, but there are theories that it was the girls who left home (which is commoner amongst humans, after all).
That wasn’t the only possibility I considered. Gorilla groups, for instance, have a dominant male who mates with all the females.
What if it was like that?